Welcome to the end of our season six round up, yes season six I can’t believe already that I have managed this fantastic club in over 300 games already. My last update saw me reveal our new tactical system The Velvet Revolution which if you have not already read you can do so by clicking here. So without further ado let’s get on with looking at how we got on when it came down to the sharp end of the season.
January / February 2024
It’s always nice to kick off a new year with a victory and 2024 got off to a good start when Abdou Diakhate gave us a 1-0 victory against Palermo in the quarter-final of the Coppa Italia in Florence to set up a Semi Final against Napoli. A 0-1 defeat against Empoli was frustrating, to say the least, but despite the result and lack of goals, I have every faith in the system that we are now playing.
A Josip Posavec own goal got us off to a good start in our Serie A game against Palermo. Patrick Cutrone added a brace of his own to give us a 3-0 win and all three points to end the month of January.
February was a good month for us with 7 games in all competitions returning 5 wins and 2 draws that included 5 clean sheets which is a good time to give our defensive unit a shoutout. We have become a very difficult side to break down which you know is a good platform for any club in search of honours. It all starts with the man between the sticks Alban Lafont who is, without doubt, one of the best keepers in the World (My game World). The French stopper is backed up by Polish keeper Bartlomlej Dragowski who accepted his role of back up to Lafont from day one of my time at the club. Dragowski could well be leaving the club at the end of the season that will give young Alberto Scotta a chance within the first team picture.
In front of Lafont we have the centre back pairing of Gianluca Mancini and Alessandro Bastoni who have proved to be an excellent pairing and who are backed up by two players who have come through our development system Prince Bakouboula and Manuel Esposito who are the first in a conveyor belt of central defenders who are coming through the system.
The full-back positions are occupied by Claude Adjapong and Luca Pellegrini backed up by the ever dependable Christian Biraghi on the left and youth product Emanuel Pizzo on the right. I have no problem rotating any of the defensive positions because this is a unit that are all well drilled in their duties.
A 2-0 win against Frosinone was the first game up on the calendar closely followed by a narrow 1-0 victory against Napoli in the 1st leg of the Coppa Italia Semi Final in Florence. A 2-2 draw against a resolute Genoa side followed before we jetted off to Denmark for Thursday night Europa League clash against Danish Champions FC København that resulted in us taking a 4-0 1st leg result back th the Franchi thanks to a stunning hat-trick from Patrick Cutrone and a single strike from Rafik Zekhnini.
The goals continued to come when Rafik Zekhnini scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 win against Sampdoria with a four-goal haul that Samp could not prevent with the flying wide man running the show in the Franchi with a four-goal blitz.
A 1-1 draw against FC København ensured our progression to the last 16 of the Europa League with a first goal for Emanuel Pizzo in a first-team shirt. Two goals away in Naples via Luca Pellegrini and Abdou Diakhate was enough to ensure a 2-0 win against Napoli and book a place in the Coppa Italia Final against Arsene Wenger’s Milan.
For whatever reason we lost a bit of momentum in March starting off with a 2-3 defeat at Udinese despite controlling the game, it was a definite off day for us but we managed to pick ourselves up for the visit of Real Sociedad in the last 16 of the Europa League taking a 2-1 home win thanks to an Abdou Diakhate double back to Spain for the 2nd leg.
A goalless draw in Sardinia against Cagliari was disappointing, to say the least meaning that we have lost a bit of ground in the race for the title. We performed a lot better in Spain when we visited the Basque region were Patrick Cutrone scored a first-half goal to earn a 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad to take us into the last 8 of the Europa League.
Another draw 0-0 this time against Juventus in Florence was our third draw on the bounce and our third Serie A game without a win which I feel could cost us come the end of the season. We then finish the month off with a 2-0 win at home to SPAL with a goal a piece for Ganso and Berardi.
Quite possibly one of the best months that I have had on any save, the football produced by La Viola was outstanding with the Velvet Revolution system working a treat. With six wins from six matches and 5 clean sheets starting off with a 2-0 in Florence against Chievo coming courtesy of two 2nd half strikes from both Benjamín Rollheiser and Patrick Cutrone.
A Europa League quarter final at Old Trafford against Antônio Conte and his Manchester United side produced a 2-1 win that was well deserved but we had to count on two late goals from Alessandro Bastoni and Domenico Berardi to set up an interesting 2nd leg in Florence.
A 1-0 win against the League leaders Lazio in the Franchi thanks to a goal from Patrick Cutrone gave us some hope of catching the Roman club at the summit. The performance was near perfect with the visitors failing to record a single shot on target.
The 2nd leg of our Europa League tie against Manchester United was next and another stunning performance from the boys gave us a 2-0 victory to set up a Semi Final against West Ham United in a very busy month of may thanks to goals from both Cortinovis and Cutrone.
Arsene Wenger tried to start a war of words in the build up to us hosting his Milan side at the Franchi. I refused to get involved in the Frenchman’s mind games instead choosing to let my boys do the talking out on the pitch and they didn’t let me down with a fine performance inflicting a 4-0 scoreline on Mr Wenger’s Milan. An own goal by Italy’s number one Donnarumma got us off to a good start but it was our 2nd half performance that blew Milan away. Mancini, Gendrey and Cutrone put the red and blacks to the sword.
We end the month with a visit to Bergamo to play Zidane’s Atalanta. Another Frenchman under pressure and we certainly made things a little more difficult for the Atalanta manager by beating his boys 3-0 to end a perfect month of football for our travelling supporters. Benjamin Rollheiser and a double from Patrick Cutrone wraps the game up for us.
As It Stands
We sit 5 points behind leaders Lazio going in to the last month of the season which could prove to be a gap that we may not be able to close especially with a nightmare fixture list to end the season.
We enter the month of may still fighting in three competitions which I can’t complain about however the fixture list makes this a very difficult month to manouevre but we will give it our best effort. The opening game of the month was an away trip to the London Stadium for the 1st leg of the Europa League Semi Final against West Ham United .
The Hammers did not know what had hit them when the Velvet Revolution came to town, La Viola came away with a stunning 5-0 win after a night of domination in the capital. Rafik Zekhnini and Luca Pellegrini both scored a brace whilst French youngster Luther Gendrey hit a blistering free kick.
We followed up the victory in London with two wins in Serie A the first a 2-1 win against Pescara with a young side that I had chosen to rest players in what is a very busy period of games for us. Both Prince Bakouboula and Ganso got the goals on the night. Another victory this time a 1-0 win against Internazionale thanks to a Patrick Cutrone penalty in a tight game against the 4th placed side.
The return leg of our Semi Final against West Ham United was also an opportunity to rest a few tired legs with us being 5-0 up from the first leg so I picked a mixed side of 1st team regulars and mainly back up players to see the job through and it worked with an entertaining 2-2 draw with goals from Claud Adjapong and Fabio Gentile giving us a 7-2 aggregate win that sets up an all Italian Europa League Final against Internazionale in Austria in two weeks time.
The title race is definitely hotting up with just 5 games remaining we have closed the gap on leaders Lazio to just two points. We managed to keep the pressure on Lazio when on Matchday 34 we beat U.S Sassuolo 3-1 in the Franchi with goals from Alessandro Cortinovis and Gianluca Mancini either side of an own goal.
Matchday 35 did not go our way at all in fact we laboured our way through the game with Roma on their patch. A 0-1 defeat most definitely dents our chance of winning the title and in truth I think with just a 3 day gap after the Coppa Italia Final (which you can read about below) we are now seeing the signs of fatigue throughout the squad.
In pretty much the same tone as the Roma game another 0-1 defeat this time in Scilly against the high flying Palermo of Stellone, (who goes on to win the manager of the year award and deservedly so) but again this time just 3 days after Europa League Final (which again you can read about below).
The defeat in Scilly ends our chance of winning the title which would have been nice but we just ran out of steam at the wrong time with the heavier schedule due to our participation in the other competitions.
A 2-0 win against Torino confirms a 2nd place finish in the league for the 3rd year running thanks to a double strike from Domenico Berardi that leaves the Turin club fighting for their lives going in to the final game of the season.
We end our Serie A campaign with a 3-4 defeat in the shadow of Vesuvius to a Napoli side who have finished 3rd in the table. In an end to end game Napoli troubled our backline better than anybody else during the season which is a credit to them. Both our wide men Domenico Berardi 2 and Rafik Zekhnini got our goals.
Coppa Italia Final 2024
Ahead of our 4th Coppa Italia Final under my guidance I was feeling the nerves, we have lost the previous three so I wanted this more than anything, yes I was getting nervous about a game of dots running around a screen, but they were not just any dots they are my dots and I have grown attached to them if it’s madness or not. We lined up with a strong starting XI with youngster Luther Gendrey getting the nod over Christian Nørgaard in the absence of Alessandro Cortinovis who is out injured for the game against Wenger’s Milan.
Arsene Wenger as been somewhat of a bloody idiot towards us in recent times and yet again the pre match build up was of Wenger taking a swipe at us again but I can’t be bothered to get involved in his mind games and let the players do the talking and you know what?
We did it, we finally ended our run of Cup Final defeats with a solid 2-0 win with a goal in each half coming via Alessandro Bastoni in the first half after 6 minutes and Patrick Cutrone in the 2nd half against his old club just 5 minutes from the end.
At long last we have broken our Cup Final curse……..
Europa League Final 2024
With the Coppa Italia in the trophy cabinet we came in to this Final against Internazionale in a confident mood. Alessandro Cortinovis came in for Luther Gendrey in our midfield. The first half was a tight affair but after a half time grilling the boys came out fighting in the 2nd period but it was just after the hour that we made the breakthrough through Patrick Cutrone.
We looked in control but failed to kill the game off until a triple substitution on the 80 minute mark with Gentile, Giannattassio and Norgaard coming on for Cutrone, Tonali and Diakhate sparking a burst of energy to push for the nail in the coffin and it finally came in the 87th minute when Fabio Gentile outpaced the Inter backline to cooly finish and secure a 2-0 win that completes a cup double to round our season off.
Serie A Final Table 2024
Congratulations to Lazio who became the 6th different winner of the Serie A title in the last 6 seasons. A third consecutive 2nd place finish ahead of Napoli in 3rd and Palermo in 4th.
20 goals from Patrick Cutrone ahead of Rafik Zekhnini on 15 goals makes Cutrone our top goalscorer this season and also our top assist man showcasing the Forwards all round game. Gianluca Mancini with a 7.38 average rating from 45 games shows his importance to the side over the season, the elegant defender also chipped in with 4 goals of his own this season.
Creating A Legacy
Florence And The Goal Machine: The Story So Far
2023-2024 Serie A 2nd Place / Europa League Winners / Coppa Italia Winners
2022-2023 Serie A 2nd Place / Europa League Runners Up / Coppa Italia Runners Up
2021-2022 Serie A 2nd Place / Supercoppa Italia Winners / Coppa Italia Runners Up
2020-2021 Serie A 1st Place / (Manager Of The Year)
2019-2020 Serie A 5th Place / Coppa Italia Runners Up
2018-2019 Serie A 3rd Place / (Manager Of The Year)
I am very pleased with how the club is progressing year on year and feel that with a tweak here and there the Velvet Revolution will lead us to glory.
Going Forward 2024-2025
We are now entering the close season, a time for preparation for the season ahead and a time for us to welcome the players who may be taking the next step in their development by joining the 1st team squad. We are also saying goodbye to a few players who have served the club well when called upon.
Christian Nørgaard, Christian Biraghi and Bartlomiej Dragowski are all parting company with La Viola this summer. All three players have been professional and handled being a back up player within the squad. This now opens up an opportunity for someone to step up from the Development squad to fill the voids that the departure’s have opened up.
On the subject of in’s and out’s I noticed that La Viola’s ex winger Federico Chiesa is on the transfer list for around £65m which prompted me to make a tweak to our transfer policy.
- I am now going to allow us to sign any ex player
- We can now sign any free agent under the age of 25
- All other signings must be 18 or Under
By the way an approach for Chiesa is not on the cards due to both the transfer fee and wages…….
I am pleased to announce that we had 11 Italian players called up for the U19 European Championships that will take place this summer showing our strength in depth.
Press Conference Coverciano, Florence.
Today the Italian Football federation have announced that Maurizio Sarri has left his position of the national team manager with immediate effect after the Azurri got knocked out of the European Championship after a Quarter-final defeat on penalties against Scotland. The Football federation of Italy are proud to announce that the current ACF Fiorentina boss Michael Skidmore is the new Azumi manager. It’s the first time in history that La Nazionale have appointed a non Italian manager. The Fiorentina manager will operate in a dual role by continue to manage La Viola alongside the Azzurri. The task of managing both is not without controversy however the task is made a little easier with the Azzurri training base being based in Coverciano in Florence. The Italian federation are happy to have got their man after the English FA had also revealed that they had also made an offer of to Skidmore to manage the England national team.
Italian football federation spokesperson Nicola Berti said that the style of play at Fiorentina is a big factor in appointing Skidmore who is no stranger to giving youth a chance. Speculation is already growing ahead of the new manager naming his first squad.
I just could not turn down the offer to manage the Azurrii, I look forward to announcing my first squad ahead of our Nations Cup opening game against Switzerland. The other country in our group are Germany who I expect to be a tough opponent. I will be looking to bring the Velvet Revolution system to the national team set up. So I am now a club and country man so what I have decided to do is that I will blog separately about the national team keeping both the Fiorentina and Italy updates apart.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all who have followed my FM19 progress to date and welcome any new followers. It’s been a fantastic experience for me on FM19 and look forward each week to getting some quality game time in. I have seen that a few FM player’s are struggling to get motivated to play FM and I can only think that a lot of people can suffer from overkill from when the Beta is released. To guard against this I actually limit my game time to mostly weekends and the odd midweek session depending on if I am at work or on leave. This works for me and keeps me hungry to play the game.
ACF Fiorentina as been a popular choice of club for me this time around and have to hope that my next club (FM20) gives me the same experience. I have worked out that I should complete ten seasons come the end of September with this save which will then give me a break before the next FM release in November.
So with a potential four seasons left on the save I would very much like to be able to win another Serie A title, and a Champions League title would be nice but I am not being greedy and hope to be able to keep the club in the higher echelons of the Italian game before anything else.